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Wednesday, 24 May 1972
Page: 2049

Senator POYSER asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation:

(1)   Is it a fact that an invalid or age pensioner who requires an artificial limb

(a)   does not receive any Commonwealth allowance for the purchase of such a limb, and

(b)   must pay the cost of the artificial limb in advance before the Commonwealth Artificial Limb and Appliance Centre will manufacture it.

(2)   Is the cost of an artificial leg now listed at $150; if so, is it reasonable to expect pensioners to be able to pay this amount in advance.


Minister for Repatriation has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   (a) So far as the Social Services Act is concerned, where an invalid pensioner is accepted through the Commonwealth Rehabilitation. Service, which comes under the control of my colleague, the Minister for Social Services, any artificial limb required in connection with his rehabilitation is provided without any cost to the pensioner. Otherwise, there is no provision under this Act for the supply of artificial limbs, without cost, to age and invalid pensioners.

(b)   Repatriation Artificial Limb and Appliance Centres provide artificial limbs and appliances for other Commonwealth Government Departments and instrumentalities, for State Government Departments and philanthropic organisations, and for private patients who cannot be satisfactorily fitted elsewhere. For patients who require artificial limbs and appliances and are sponsored by State Government Departments and philanthropic organisations (and these constitute the bulk of civilian patients), it is the practice of the Repatriation Department in each case to obtain an official order guaranteeing payment from the organisation concerned before work commences on the artificial limb. Payment for the limb or appliance is then made on satisfactory completion. For a private patient, it has long been the practice to obtain payment of the estimated full cost of the completed limb or appliance before manufacture commences. This is later adjusted in the light of the actual cost of the completed limb.

(2)   The cost of an artificial limb depends largely upon the site of amputation and the specific needs of the particular patient. Costs vary widely but, as an indication, the most common type of limb prescribed for an above-knee amputee costs approximately $260 and for a below-knee patient approximately $150.

A civilan or sponsoring authority provided with a limb by a Repatriation Artificial Limb and Appliance Centre is charged the cost of manufaturing the particular limb, the relevant costs being collected and recorded individually for each job.

The Department is currently in the process of introducing standard charges for certain more commonly prescribed limbs.

These charges are based on the average cost of manufacturing the particular type of limb. The concept of standard pricing has recently been on trial in Victoria and the current charge there for a below-knee patellar-tendon-bearing limb is in fact $150.

Individual costing will continue for less commonly prescribed limbs.

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